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Switzerland decides on Sunday whether to become the first country to ban medical tests on animals

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Switzerland decides on Sunday whether to become the first country to ban medical tests on animals

Swiss people go to the polls on Sunday to vote on whether their country will be the first in the world to ban medical animal testing altogether, as animal rights activists have backed enough to hold a referendum in Switzerland. which has a huge pharmaceutical industry .

More than 550,000 animals died in laboratory tests in 2020 in Switzerland, according to government statistics. The number includes 400,000 mice and rats, nearly 4,600 dogs, 1,500 cats and 1,600 horses . Primary mammals, cows, pigs, fish and birds also died during and after trials.

“It's hard and unnecessary to test animals and I'm sure we can develop drugs without them,” said Renato Verdli , a doctor from northeastern Switzerland who launched the initiative under the Swiss system of direct democracy. The result of the referendum will be binding.

However, the ban is not expected to be voted on, to alleviate the pharmaceutical industry, which has warned that the move will halt the development of new drugs and force companies and researchers to relocate abroad.

“We should not exploit animals for our own selfish purposes, ” Verdley said, adding that research methods such as biochips – small chips that host a variety of chemical reactions – are computer simulations or microcomputers or microcomputers. more effective than animal tests.

The pharmaceutical association Interpharma claims that the industry, which includes companies such as Roche and Novartis , contributes 9% to the Swiss economy, including indirect revenues, and produces almost half of Swiss exports.

Interpharma is leading the way on the industry side, saying it would be disastrous to adopt those proposals. “Pharmaceutical research, clinical trials in hospitals and basic research in universities will no longer be possible ,” said Rene Buchholzer , CEO of Interpharma.

Leading pharmaceutical companies have said that banning animal testing could lead to the end of new drugs.

“I think you have seen in the Covid era how important it is to discover new vaccines, how important new drugs are. “And they have been tested on animals ,” Idorsia CEO Jean-Paul Klozel told Reuters.

Maris van de Brook of the University of Zurich is conducting research, implanting tumors in mice to study how their immune systems can be strengthened to fight cancer. “Because we do not understand even 10% of the processes that take place in a tumor, it is impossible to use computer models or cell culture to understand the complex biology of cancer,” he said.

Before scientists can start an animal experiment, they must prove that there is no alternative and that their research is important.

“We use about 750 mice a year. “At the end of the experiment everything dies, but there is no other alternative ,” she said. “Without this particular experiment, we would not be able to develop therapies that save lives.”

According to the latest polls, only 26% of voters are in favor of the ban and 68% are against.

Switzerland holds referendums four times a year, with Swiss last year in favor of the government banning the coronavirus and approving same-sex marriage.

Renato Verdley said the campaign has raised awareness of the plight of laboratory animals and continues to hope that the effort will be successful. “I hope we can finally change and that Switzerland can set a positive example for the rest of the world to help stop animals from suffering,” he said.

Source: politis.com.cy

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